Passage to the US Virgin Islands…and beyond!

We got up really early on Thursday morning and slipped quietly from our dock as the sun was rising and motored away down the river, admiring our final view of the big bridge as we passed under it.

Leaving the Willemstad bridge behind

We reached the pontoon bridge and radioed the operator – to be told they had just opened – so we had to wait. We stooged around for almost half an hour until finally it opened – the pilot boat came through first followed by the Venezuelan fishermen….

Stooging waiting for the pontoon bridge to open Time for tea Blaine getting reaquainted!

In come the Venezuelan fishermen

We slipped through the gap that was left into the swirling currents and then turned to port to run – under motor – along the rocky coast of Curacao.

Passing through the opening

We left early as the wind often doesn’t get up until later in the morning – and this held for us thankfully – so the dreaded part of the journey was slow but not too uncomfortable as we motored into the wind and strong currents….   We then headed towards Klein Curacao to ensure we could pass around the point of Curacao without getting caught out by the really nasty lee shore and strong fetch that comes from miles.   During this time motoring down the coast, Blaine was down below catching some sleep as Richard and he were going into their shift pattern straight away – I was a spare pair of hands to do some daytime shifts to help them out and to supply the food, of course!

Richard on shift

We passed the end of Curacao safely and put in our rhumb line to Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands.   We knew that, if possible, we should aim to stay east of this line but because of prevailing winds and currents we knew realistically that it would not be possible.

We sailed as close to the rhumb line as we could and it was pretty lumpy out there but we had lovely clear skies and much better conditions than we had been expecting. The wind only got up to 25 knots and most of the time was running at 15 to 20 – although we were getting pushed west by the current with no hazards apart from the tankers that move around this area in huge numbers. Luckily we had no near misses this time!

First big ship of the trip

The first sunset came and it was time for me to retire and Richard and Blaine to move to three hourly shift patterns.   We were bouncing around a bit but not too uncomfortable…. And we had a pretty uneventful night…..


Friday morning and the sight of the sun coming up at sea – perfect – and the wind continued to ease now settling around 15 knots.   The boys continued their shift pattern and I did a few hours here and there while they took cat naps….   It was almost a perfect day apart from the increasing distance that was appearing between our rhumb line and actual direction of travel – almost 35 miles west now. That’s a long way to claw back. Oh well……

Sunrise Big lumpy!

During the day we were visited by a small school of spinner dolphins playing around in the sizeable waves until they almost bumped into Morphie’s bow – and then turned at the last minute to avoid getting hit.   Really funny – you could almost imagine them chuckling each time.   Unfortunately they didn’t show themselves much above the surface so I wasn’t able to capture their fun photographically.   A great day on passage – and the sun set for another night at sea.

Perfect conditions!

Saturday morning and the wind changed….   It stayed about 13-15 knots but the direction went south east which was absolutely perfect for us and pretty unusual for this area.   Yay!!!!  So we made some easting while we could and headed towards our rhumb line – we were about 10 miles away from our rhumb line when the genoa just wouldn’t set, whatever we did or how far we fell off the wind.   So we rolled it away in frustration and went under main and staysail only while we had some lunch.   With the wind change now confirmed and holding we had a sailable direction to St Thomas if it changed again.   Wow – wasn’t expecting that at all…..   An amazing perfect day at sea followed by another beautiful sunset.

Sunset 2

Sunday morning and another sunrise – and the wind started to ease a lot.   We now had about 10 knots but still with a south element so we continued on our course.   Then the wind almost disappeared and started to fluke around and we wondered what weather was following.   During the day Richard had some excitement – he caught a fish!!!   A pretty small one and we put him back – but a better start to the season…  Let’s hope it continues LOL…

Name that fish!

Sunday afternoon Richard spotted some nasty stuff but it passed by us without any effects. During the night, however, he came down for me to check the radar – and there were squalls all around us. The wind picked up – and moved east – but fine, we can sail that!   Sunrise 2

Monday morning and we are getting close – and then the storms came. The wind went north east, but because of our easting earlier, we were still able to sail direct to St Thomas. Then the storms got nasty and we even spotted a water spout out there….   The heavens opened and there was a white out. And that set the scene…   Rain, rain and more rain…..

Storm coming Visibility disappearing See the water spout! White out! Horrible - just horrible

But we’re still making way…. And eventually we get close enough to see St Thomas in the gloom and we encounter our first cruise ship of the trip at the same time as the skies cleared……

First cruise ship of the trip

But then there was more rain – more gloom – but eventually we set our hook in the waters of Charlotte Amalie at around 2.30 pm.   It had taken us 4 ½ days and we covered 516 miles in total.  Woo hoo!!!!   Great passage…..

Cleaned up quickly – into the ferry dock – and we cleared into the US Virgin Islands.   We then ended up in the Fat Turtle for our first alcoholic drinks for a while and something to eat.   Back on board pretty tired but happy and we settled into a good night’s sleep – again, back in our beds rather than in sea cots!

The Fat Turtle

Tuesday morning – and we went ashore to get internet at the coffee shop.   Had some breakfast and Richard posed for a special photo for Dan and Ruth, showing off his Wisconsin souvenir tee-shirt!

Souvenir from Wisconsin

The Shops

We returned to Morphie admiring all the mega yachts in the marina, and had to run through the channel next to the cruise ships. Disney was in so we spotted Dumbo flying off his stern and Mickey was painted on his bow.   Pretty ship!   And of course the boys were being silly in the dinghy!

There's Mickey! They fancied being on the Disney ship Superyachts lining the docks Busy with huge boys toys Dumbo what are you doing up there The dinghy dock is behind there somewhereBack on board, got ourselves ready, and then – in the torrential rain – picked up anchor and motored along the coast of St Thomas to return to Red Hook.   This was our home port when Morphie was in charter so interesting that the guy on the fuel dock remembered us and welcomed us back!!!!   Well – rain stopped work although cleaned all the salt off Morphie – so we sat in Molly Malones enjoying a few Coronas and tried to catch up, but the internet failed….   Grrrr….. feeling the need to get connected LOL.

Then we met one of Blaine’s friend Dave – and had a burger dinner with him – and then headed to Duffys for a party night.   It was pretty quiet although it was Tequila Tuesday – but we really had a lot of fun as I think the photos show! Great night out.

Blaine and Dave Duffys Love Shack Let the fun begin! Fancy a shot Tequila Tuesday

This morning and its back to work – I’ve just loaded up the washing machines in the laundromat and am now sitting in Mollys drinking coffee hoping for internet to get this published.   Yay – it’s working!   Richard is back on board doing post-passage maintenance jobs….

Bye for now